Three Las Animas County high school seniors were named as initial winners of the Mary John Goree Las Animas County Scholarship for 2018 - 2019. Michael J. Duran of Primero High School, Malachi Jones of Hoehne High School and Sophie Sheumaker of Trinidad High School were named initial winners in a Foundation press release dated Friday, January 4. 

The Foundation will finalize the class after May 1, which is the deadline for the initial winners to accept or decline the Foundation’s offer of a scholarship. The scholarships include tuition and books, but do not cover living expenses.

The Mary John Goree Las Animas County Scholarship offers Las Animas County residents a guaranteed minimum award that will meet or exceed full tuition and fees and can be used at any four-year college or university in the United States (other than Princeton University). 

“These three exceptional students, selected out of a very highly-qualified group of finalists, have demonstrated excellence inside and outside of the classroom throughout their high school years. The board of directors of the Foundation is confident that they will add to their record of accomplishment in their future education,” said Foundation president David J. Vandermeulen in the release.

Michael J. Duran — Primero

Duran’s father, Michael L. Duran, said his son Michael was the first Primero student to be named an initial finalist for the prestigious scholarship, speaking in a Friday, January 4 phone call. “It’s really a great honor for him to be named one of the three initial finalists,” he said. “His mother and I told him this scholarship was out there for him if he kept working hard and got really good grades. I’m sure he will accept the scholarship, and I know he’s already applied to go to CU-Boulder, where he’ll probably major in pre-medicine.

“It’s a dream come true for our whole family and it’s really an awesome accomplishment for Michael. After his interview, he came home and kept looking at his cellphone, wondering if he’d won it. I was outside when the call came in and I heard his mother cut loose with this wild scream, and that’s how I knew he had won. Michael also participated in cross-country, track and basketball at Primero. We’re both very proud of him.”

The senior Duran also coached cross-country and track at both Trinidad and Primero high schools.

Michael J. Duran said in a Friday, January 4 phone call that he was thrilled to have won one of the three available scholarships. “I’m very grateful and extremely happy to have won this scholarship,” he said. “I’ve been dreaming about winning this since I was a freshman. Now to have finally won it, it’s like a dream come true. I would like to attend either Colorado University at Boulder or Baylor University. In either case I want to major in pre-medicine.”

Sophie Sheumaker — Trinidad

Allyson Sheumaker, Sophie’s mother, said she was very proud of her daughter for being named an initial winner of the scholarship. “I get pretty emotional every time I tell someone that she won,” Allyson said. “I’m just a big blubbering baby when I even think about it. She hasn’t picked a college to attend, but I know she’s applied to about 15 of them. I’m just very proud of Sophie.

“She’s excited and she’s thrilled about having won this. It’s been her goal since she was a freshman and they announced this new scholarship program. She’s been working toward this goal for the last four years and it’s great to see she’s reached it.”

Sophie said she wanted to be a book editor and was very grateful to have earned the Goree scholarship, which would help her pay for her college expenses. She hopes to study at Emerson College in Boston, because of its strong writing and publishing programs Other options could include Purdue University in Indiana or Syracuse University in New York. She had particular praises for her high school English teacher, Louis Rino. “Mr. Louis Rino was not only the best English teacher I’ve ever had, he was the best teacher, period, that I’ve ever had,” she said.

Malachi Jones — Hoehne

Hoehne’s Malachi Jones is a member of the school’s highly successful FFA team and, as a sophomore, won Gold in Milk Quality at the State Career Development Events in Ft. Collins held on May 1-3, 2016. He’s also a member of the Robotics Team at Trinidad State Junior College, according to Hoehne school counselor Shelly Jones, speaking in a Monday, January 7 phone call. “Malachi is a wonderful young man with a great attitude,” Jones said. “He really works hard at everything he does and he’s just a great kid. We are so lucky to have the Mary Jane Goree scholarships available to students in this area. It’s a terrific program for our area students.”

Malachi said in a Wednesday, January 9 phone call that he intends to go to the Colorado School of Mines in Golden. “I plan on having a double major in mathematics and aeronautical engineering. It’s a great honor to have won this scholarship,” he said.

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